By MICHAEL LETENDRE
SOUTHINGTON – On Sunday, March 10, the Connecticut High School Coaches Association held its annual All-State Wrestling banquet from the Aqua Turf in Southington as grapplers from all over the state were honored.
The event recognized the best athletes, scholars, and coaches the state of Connecticut had to offer.
And Bristol Eastern’s championship trio was recognized as 2019 Class L All-State.
The Lancers that were honored that night were Tom Nichols (132 pounds), Justin Marshall (152) and Trinidad Gonzalez (220).
Coach Bryant Lishness was also honored at the 2019 Class L Coach of the Year – winning the top coaching honor for the second straight campaign.
And longtime Bristol Eastern wrestling mentor John Benoit won the 2019 Assistant Coach of the Year in Class L for a back-to-back season as well.
It was well-deserved recognition for the Lancers’ program that won its third straight state championship, a team that lost just one meet over its last three seasons.
For Gonzalez, it was the third straight title for the senior as he’s been a champion at three different weights over his decorated scholastic career.
He’s won the Class L title at 170, 195 and 220 pounds. It’s a trifecta no other Eastern wrestler has ever able to accomplish over all those different weights.
Marshall – as steady as ever at 152 pounds – repeated as the Class L champion; and Nichols is just scratching the surface as a first-time title holder.
Eastern won its third straight Class L championship, taking the 2019 title meet at Bristol Central High School by a half-point over runner-up Simsbury, 204.5-204.
It was the narrowest margin of victory ever to decide the L trophy.
Gonzalez topped off this Connecticut portion of his scholastic career by also winning the State Open event and then came in third place from the 2019 New England Tournament in Providence, Rhode Island.
As a team, the Lancers finished in fourth place at the Connecticut State Open Tournament and placed 21st overall at the New England showdown (30.5 points).
For the second straight year, Danbury won the Team of the Year award; while the program’s top grappler, Ryan Jack (126 pounds), was the 2019 Connecticut State Wrestler of the Year.
Danbury (14-1 overall), ended the campaign as the top ranked team in the final edition of Connecticut Wrestling Online Top 10 Wrestling Poll while Eastern (16-1) was the runner-up.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Michael Letendre, email him at MLetendre@BristolObserver.com.